Phonological opacity in Japanese
Shigeto Kawahara
April 2016

Phonological opacity involves a generalization that cannot be stated solely by reference to surface structures. The classic, non-derivational version of Optimality Theory does not predict the existence of phonological opacity, as it is surface-oriented. As one possible response to this problem, a thesis has been advanced to the effect that opacity may not exist as a productive synchronic process. Regardless of whether this strong statement is true of human languages or not, it seems clear that the empirical status of phonological opacity needs to reexamined. In this theoretical context, this paper (i) offers a catalogue of cases of phonological opacity found in Japanese and (ii) provides information about how likely each case is to be treated as a productive pattern in the synchronic phonology of Japanese. This paper generally does not attempt to argue for a definitive answer for each case, but instead provides information that can be used to argue for or against its productivity, so that each researcher can evaluate the likelihood of the synchronic reality of each opaque pattern. Nevertheless, the overall emerging conclusion is that there are no cases of opacity in Japanese, which can be considered to be productive and psychologically real without a doubt. [This version supersedes lingbuzz/002239.]
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002934
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: ms. Keio University
keywords: japanese, opacity, derivation, optimality theory, phonology
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